'People of Ukraine need justice': Starmer calls for investigation of war crimes during Kyiv visit

'These are war crimes, these are absolutely appalling crimes': The Labour leader has insisted those accused of war crimes in Ukraine must be investigated

Sir Keir Starmer has backed calls for Russia to be held accountable for any war crimes its troops are alleged to have committed in Ukraine during a visit to the war-torn country.

The Labour leader's trip to the Ukrainain capital, Kyiv, was the first he has made since it was invaded by Russia, in February 2022, and is expected to include talks with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

As part of his visit, he spent time at a memorial on the outskirts of Kyiv for the victims of the invasion, including residents from the city of Bucha where the Kremlin's forces have been accused of a number of war attrocities.

Speaking to ITV News, Sir Keir said it was "very, very important there's justice for the Ukrainian people".

"Nobody who sees the evidence that I have seen today can be in any doubt whatsoever as to the nature of the atrocities," he said.

"These are war crimes, these are absolutely appalling crimes and of course we need to see Russia pushed back and defeated, but we also need to see justice, the people of Ukraine need justice for what has happened to them.

"Everything I've seen today reinforces in me the need for that justice."

The Labour leader also insisted that should his party win the next UK general election there will be no change in the government's existing stance on Ukraine.

Sir Keir Starmer speaking with officials in Ukraine during a visit to a war memorial. Credit: ITV News

With Labour well in front of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Conservatives in most national opinion polls, Sir Keir could be walking through the black door of 10 Downing Street as Britain's new leader after the next election.

His visit to Ukraine comes as the Russian invasion approaches its one-year anniversary, with Moscow's eastern offensive gathering pace in recent weeks.

Last week, President Zelenskyy made a similar diplomatic trip to the UK, where he urged the governement to provide Kyiv with military jets.

During a speech to MPs at Westminster Hall, the Ukraine president made a powerful gesture gifting House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle the helmet of a fighter pilot, on which were written the words: "We have freedom, give us wings to protect it."

A spokesman for Mr Sunak said the UK is "actively" considering whether to supply Ukraine with fighter jets.

The PM himself said at a joint-press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart that "nothing is off the table" upping British military support.

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